Dormant Seeding: A Pictorial

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Smallaxe, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. mikesturf

    mikesturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 797

    I just spent the weekend at the Wisconsin Dells (is that near you?). From watching the weather you are getting over a foot of snow with blizzard conditions!

    Thanks for starting this thread. I've been thinking of dormant seeding, but your thread is getting me into action. I'm going to buy some seed and spread it on some lawns that got some severe drought/sod webworm damage this year and see what happens in the spring.
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    WI Dells is about 2 hrs South from my location... we didn't get the 12" in all locations in that rain began to mix in and 'settle' the volume down to 8" in areas near the water... heavy and wet this morning... I took a nap after cleanup...

    Good Luck with the dormant seeding...

    For the past several years I'e done more and more dormant seeding and results were variable, but after the great success of last Spring I went all out this year... it is under a lot of snow and slush right now so all I can do at this point,,, is wait... :)
  3. suzook

    suzook LawnSite Member
    Messages: 147

    Dormant seeding sounds great, but putting down pre m in march will just prevent it
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    With cool season grasses starting up that early in the Spring, you can easily NOT pre-m it until after it is large enough to endure...
    My experience last year was that the new grass was green almost before the ground was actually warmed...
    (I'm thinking it may be possible that the seed germinates under the snow and it is actually the embryo in suspended animation so it is ready to emerge before you would want to apply pre-m...)

    This reminds me...
    For the cold frame test I want to do,,, I need a good soil thermometer, that I can poke into the ground and leave it so that when at any time I chose to snap a photo it is reading what the current soil temp is...
    Does anyone have any good recommendations??? Niether of our 2 best nurseries carry anything of the sort...
  5. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,814

    That is a toughie, AX. I use an auto air conditioner metal stem dial thermometer, available for $5 at any auto parts store. Perfect for soil temps...but...the numbers are too small for photography.

    I also have a wireless thermometer on the porch, which reads out by radio signal to a little LCD screen on my desk. But it takes batteries and I am not sure the moisture, the batteries, and the radio signal under the soil would work satisfactory.

    I have another one that sticks to my window with an LCD readout...numbers big enough...but probably not suitable to bury.
    Good question, is your soil not frozen, under the snow? Will the temp rise due to the insulating effect of the snow--assuming the deeper soil is warmer?
    Very windy here, but only about an inch of snow fell.
    I have about 4 tiny sprouts from perennial rye seed I planted in a cup plunged into the soil on November 17th. Air temp is 33 tonight.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    If they don't make actual soil thermometers I'll check into that air conditioner... thanks...
    The soil is or was frozen before the snow , but many areas will actually thaw under the snow... the frost was less than 4" deep in most areas...
    Nevertheless, where I'll be placing the thermometer will be in the soil outside around the foundation planting of the house... It will be protected by what most people call a 'porch',,, gardeners call a 'cold frame'... that will freeze and thaw quite often during the season...

    I doubt we've had anything germinate since Nov. 17th... Good job observing your side of the Lake... Do you expect your P. Rye Sprouts to survive the winter??? My guess is that those tiny sprouts have roots all the way to the bottom of the cup already...
    I understand you guys got mostly rain from Blizzard 'Brianna'...
  7. mikesturf

    mikesturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 797

    As an experiment, I have not put down a pre emergent on my lawn for 4 years and I have had no crabgrass. I've also done this on a few dozen of my customer's back yards who have dogs and want to add seed every spring in bare spots-never had crab grass. In my area (Chicago suburbs), it seems that only the parkway area and along the driveway needs pre-m. I've seen foreclosed homes that have not had any lawn fert service for a few years and I have seen crabgrass. But those lawns are very thin to begin with. Give a lawn a quality fertilization program along with having them mow no shorter than 3" and you will need less and less pesticides (no I'm not a tree hugger, just looking to use less chemicals and save money).

    I'm most worried about the new seedlings lasting throughout the summer if we have another drought.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    That should become another thread, about getting the turf healthy and thick enough to NOT require any kind of pre-M, every Spring...

    One section of one lawn was neglected by the client during the drought this season... a lot of the turf actually died and the CG 'recaptured' this particular area... Several years ago CG was prolific in that area... I did an early Spring seeding while freeze/thaw was stilltaking place and the dead bodies of the CG was used for cover... it grew up thick enough that there was no longer CG there, UNTIL this year...

    I realize that the Squirt&Fert guys need to do the pre-M all the time to make the money,,, like TGCL... I have never limitted myself to ONLY one aspect of the business so I don't think about just killing weeds but rather devote most of my energy to growing grass... The lawns in which the client believes in TGCL(or the wannabees) do not get much improvement and I really don't bother with those lawns much any more...
    So I can see why many LCO's are reluctant to attempt any sort of lawn improvement...
    One might put a newly seeded lawn toward the end of the rotation, thereby giving it a chance to establish before the root inhibitor is put down on it...

    The great advantage of Dormant Seeding is that it can only improve the requires no machines to plant,,, no dethatching,,, no aeration,,, no slit-seeders,,, no fertilizers,,, no herbicides... just toss the seed in areas of bare soil or even amongst the dead bodies of Fall killed weeds... :)
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Obviously another drought and subsequent neglect by the H.O. can eliminate the seedlings,,, but at least the grass was there and had a chance... this past drought killed the seed that was successfully growing in Sept of 2011, becuz this h.o. didn't take care of it correctly either...
  10. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,814

    Perennial ryegrass was planted in a cup planted outdoors, plunged into the soil, on November 17. Temps since then have fallen from about 45 as a daily high to about 35 as a daily high. Seedling sprouts are now about 1/8 inch tall. Grand Rapids is probably warmer than your town, Ax. Snowing hard today.
    Specific weather data, and daily temps:

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